Ian Bridges: Making Medical Research More Accessible

My name is Ian Bridges and I am a pure mathematics major at Florida State
University. I was born and raised in Virginia Beach where I enjoyed running,
playing jazz music on the drums, going to the beach, and learning about
mathematics and computers. I love to stay busy, and nowadays I enjoy hanging 
out with my friends, weightlifting, hiking, spending time with my girlfriend, 
reading math and computer science books, and (still) going to the beach! All in 
all, I guess not much has changed. 

Ian Bridges, Sophomore, Mathematics

I decided to apply for an IDEA Grant to in order to support my passion for 
computing. Most of my classes are mathematics based and so I don’t have a lot 
of time to give to learning about computer science topics. I find this a shame 
because I really enjoy programming and developing products that improve 
people’s lives, even if it’s in a small way. 

In specific, my IDEA Grant project aims to increase accessibility of medical 
research articles to the layperson. In the event that my project idea is 
fulfilled in its entirety, there would also be opportunities for unique data 
visualization and better search times/results for those conducting reviews of 
the literature. I plan to learn about and use artificial intelligence and/or 
machine learning to develop a model that is focused on natural language 
processing. In other words, I am planning on making a machine learn how to read 
a medical research article. The model will be able to identify the experimental 
variables within the articles and their correlation, i.e. answering the 
question “is the independent variable positively or negatively correlated with 
the dependent variable?”

Initially, I planned for this model to be used on a website which would present the most recent medical articles labeled with variable data and correlations, that way a layperson may be able to draw conclusions about a certain topic using the most recent research. Though this would undoubtedly be very useful, I do not think it would be possible given the time frame. A goal which will be achieved during the time frame is the 
production of an academic article which establishes a framework for realizing 
the project idea in its entirety. Once this project is realized and the model 
is developed, the model and accessory programs can also be given to research 
personnel who may be able to use it to search for articles based on 
independent/dependent variable instead of keyword. Hopefully, this “variable” 
search will be faster and more precise than keyword search. 

Currently, I have a very limited understanding of artificial intelligence first 
principles, mathematical foundations, and technologies. This project will 
require me to learn about all of these topics. I have experience coding in 
Python, so I will need to learn about the artificial intelligence libraries 
available for Python users such as PyTorch and TensorFlow. In addition, the 
university offers some computing resources which may be useful if I choose to 
train my own model and not use another one, such as GPT-3. 

I hope that this IDEA Grant will help familiarize me with artificial 
intelligence as it is a prospective research area for me as I plan to enter 
graduate school after my graduation from Florida State University. In graduate 
school, I hope to use mathematics to solve problems related to computing of all 
kinds, including numerical methods, quantum computing, machine vision, and 
artificial intelligence. Therefore, my IDEA grant project is one of the first 
steps in my journey towards this goal!

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